From time to time, I guide groups of Swedish tourists. I am lucky enough to be able to cherry-pick tours that interest me which means that I get paid to do stuff I love! But make no mistake, guiding is not being on holiday. Right now, I’m guiding a 3-week hiking tour through Swaziland, South Africa and Lesotho. Here’s what a normal day looks like:
Wake up at 5 to plan the day, pack the day-pack (and the suitcase on days that we move, which is more or less every other day). Make sure that breakfast will be ready on time, and that the lunch-packs contain the agreed food and drink. Make sure the group is ready for the day, answer questions about route, times and weather (Swedes are obsessed with weather, current and future – a question that particularly puzzles people here is “what temperature is it now?”). Sit down for a quick breakfast, then check that the driver is ready (and make sure that all bags are packed into the trailer on moving days).
Then comes the nice bit: hike for 5-6 hours in stunning locations! During the hike, make sure that everyone is fine with the pace, explain about the things and places we see, and make sure you have one or two back-up plans in case someone needs to go slower or wants to end the hike earlier. Remind people to apply sunscreen and drink water. Remember to put sunscreen on own face (this, I have learned the hard way).
After the hike, make sure everyone is happy and inform where a cold beer can be procured. Inform about dinner time, wifi and plans (and weather) for tomorrow. Check that the hotel has dinner ready for the agreed time, and make sure they know who is paying for what (especially when each one is paying for their own drinks – one bill for the table will spell BIG problems…). Plan the next day: call ahead to the hotel, make sure local guides know when and where to meet up, chat to the driver about the route (make sure he thinks he is making all the decisions), check weather forecast. Try to get some of the “office” work done (especially if there is internet connection that is faster than the drink-service). Have dinner with clients, make sure drinks are served promptly (Swedes do not do African Time) and that bills are issued as agreed. Explain why the internet is so slow.
Try to get some more office work done before crashing at 9pm. Sleep like a baby, then repeat all over again.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s an awesome job! I’m just saying it takes more to make a holiday than it does to go on one 😉. But the rewards are plentiful!